July 13, 2017

Van Hollen Fights for Maryland in Military Construction-VA Appropriations Bill

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted to support the Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (VA), and Related Agencies appropriations bill. It supports critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, and provides increased funding for veterans' health care and benefits.

"This bill makes important investments in our service members, veterans, and infrastructure necessary to keep America safe," said Senator Van Hollen. "Maryland is proud to support so many military installations and to have so many military personnel and veterans call our state home. I will keep fighting to ensure they have the support they need on and off the battlefield."

The legislation includes hundreds of millions of dollars for Maryland to fund critical projects, including:

  • $123.8 million for Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. This construction will continue efforts to modernize the campus and enable us to pair the best medical professionals with the latest technology to care for our wounded warriors. Senator Van Hollen led the effort to secure $90 million to help mitigate traffic issues when Walter Reed was moved to Maryland in 2011.
  • $313.698 million to build a state-of-the-art operations facility for the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland. As NSA and U.S. Cyber Command grow at Fort Meade and the number of people working there increases, traffic and infrastructure issues must be addressed.
  • $100 million for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Complex at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Maryland. The complex includes the hanger, support buildings, and aprons that will be used for Air Force One. Senator Van Hollen continues to raise concerns about 'clear zone' safety issues in the community surrounding the base.
  • Language directing the Navy to provide a report on how facilities could foster collaborative and innovative ship design has made it in the bill. Senator Van Hollen continues to advocate for a single design and innovation center for ship design at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland.
  • $20 million in additional funding to help homeless veterans. Senator Van Hollen has been working on this issue for over a decade and worked closely with Montgomery County, Maryland to effectively end veterans homelessness in that community.
  • $10 million in additional funding for small construction projects at Defense laboratories.The 15 Defense laboratories located throughout Maryland can benefit from this additional funding.
  • $20 million in additional funding to support the special health care needs of women service members that have been overlooked for too long. Senator Van Hollen has long advocated for women veterans to receive the care they need and deserve.
  • Full funding for the family caregiver support programs, which are cost effective ways to provide quality care for veterans from the people who know and love them best. Senator Van Hollen has co-sponsored legislation to expand and improve the program.
  • $10 million in additional funding for the Veteran Crisis Line and a requirement that the VA to conduct a new study on the prevalence of suicide among veterans.Senator Van Hollen has co-sponsored legislation to study and prevent veteran suicides.
  • $705 million for VA medical and prosthetics research, which is $65 million more than the President's budget.
  • $19 million for the Maryland Army National Guard Readiness Center and a plan to improve centers across the country. The new Freedom Readiness Center replaces two outdated and inadequate facilities and combines two units at a new facility in Sykesville, Maryland.

Language directing the VA to report on each of the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans studies that demonstrate linkages between health issues and exposure to dioxin/Agent Orange. The VA does not recognize the claims of veterans who served aboard ships off the coast of Vietnam, even though studies indicate that they were likely exposed to Agent Orange. Senator Van Hollen has co-sponsored legislation to address this problem.